From the Daily Telegraph:
“One of France’s most distinguished diplomats has confessed to an investigating judge that he accepted oil allocations from Saddam Hussein, it emerged yesterday. Jean-Bernard Mérimée is thought to be the first senior figure to admit his role in the oil-for-food scandal, a United Nations humanitarian aid scheme hijacked by Saddam to buy influence. The Frenchman, who holds the title “ambassador for life”, told authorities that he regretted taking payments amounting to $156,000 (then worth about £108,000) in 2002. The money was used to renovate a holiday home he owned in southern Morocco. At the time, Mr Mérimée was a special adviser to Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general.According to yesterday’s Le Figaro, he told judge Philippe Courroye during an interview on Oct 12: “I should not have done what I did. I regret it.” But he also said that the payments were made in recompense for work he had done on Iraq’s behalf. “All trouble is worth a wage,” he is reported to have said.”
Interestingly, he is reported not to have paid any tax on the money he received for this ‘work’.